When I read about the re-translation in the early 90's just before Y2K (I had read the Bantam edition, a hand-me down from the local book fair), I found myself amazed at what a few years and a new set of eyes on the text can do to change a book. Shukhov changed, as I had changed, but the plight, and the unfairness was no different.
I read Solzhenitsyn before I read Dostoevsky or Tolstoy. It is his voice I hear when I think of Russian. Well, to be fair, it is his voice I do my translating in - most actual "voices" seem to be some version of Vysotsky - but Solzhenitsyn's tone - his ability to break the emotional into the atomic parts of language and experience which came from such a different pragmatism than anyone in this country knows. That is what got me into things Russian. Lukyanenko was a close run for a while, but I've found the longer I have gone without reading any of his stuff, the less his voice overrides my head.
Rasputin has always enthralled me, as has the entire Romanov saga. It was the reason I was so enthralled by HBO's Carnivale years ago, and the reason I ultimately hated it as it evolved. My love of Russian folk songs is how I came to know Tom Waits (though it would be an ill-fated trip to a Super-K in Ohio that would really seal my love for the music he makes).
I feel like a little bit of me got lost today, and the world is a little more dim for it.